Wits SRC warns mandatory vaccination policy may sow divisions on campus
The Wits University student representative council (SRC) has hit back at a mandatory vaccination policy set to be implemented next year.
The university announced last week that unvaccinated students and staff will not be allowed entry on campus from January.
“As the university starts to facilitate more teaching, learning and interaction on campus ... and returns more students to residences, a mandatory vaccination policy will accordingly aid in protecting the health and safety of the university community and, by extension, members of the public that come into contact with the university’s employees and students or otherwise participate in any university activity,” it said.
The SRC said the policy is not in line with the constitution and may sow divisions between vaccinated and unvaccinated students and employees.
“Wits University has further decided to divide its campus into a two-tier system of discrimination based on who the institution deems clean and unclean. We cannot set a precedent in our democratic society where institutions get to decide who is worthy of their basic freedoms and rights and who is not,” the council said in a statement.
Last month, the SA Human Rights Commission found that mandatory Covid-19 vaccination would not necessarily be a human rights infringement.
The commission said a general law compelling South Africans to get vaccinated would be constitutionally sound under the right circumstances. However, it called on the government to explore all options to encourage voluntary vaccination first.
The Wits SRC called on the university to lobby students and staff to vaccinate through persuasion rather than “coercion” which would only cause resistance towards vaccination.
“Vaccinations are a personal and private choice and students should not be subjected to a vaccine passport to enter campus. Let us encourage vaccination rather than coercing students into vaccination which will most likely result in people becoming more entrenched in their opposition,” it said.
The SRC proposed that Wits provide education about the vaccine to enable students to make an informed decision about whether to get vaccinated.
It also wants the university to offer daily Covid-19 screenings and for all students who produce a negative antibody test to be allowed to attend social events.
"All unvaccinated students should be allowed to register and enter campus with negative antibody testing paid for by the univeristy," it added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday SA was mulling implementing mandatory vaccination for companies and labour. He said this would ensure the protection of all South Africans.
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